The Internet giant Google is to launch a new era of ‘Internet TV’ with a service that allows users to search their screens in the same way as the web. The innovation, Google TV, will mean viewers can use their set for television and the internet – and even both at the same time.
Users will be able to watch material from catch-up services like the BBC iPlayer and ITV Player on their main television screen.
Google TV, which is accessed through a special set-top box, will launch in the UK within six months.
Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, will outline his vision tonight when he gives this year’s MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival.
According to the company, Google TV permits people to search all of the content on the TV and the internet by using a single click.
The service will also let you shift between the TV and Internet on your main screen without having to adjust any cables. Smartphones and iPhones can be used instead of a remote control to change channels, and people can even use their voice to conduct searches.
The service also has a special version of YouTube in high definition.
|X-Factor: Google TV will allow viewers of shows like the X Factor to switch between watching the programme and reading the online reaction on Twitter|
Mr Schmidt is expected to talk about how we are increasingly watching TV and using the internet at the same time, especially with shows like The X Factor, when audiences switch between watching the programme and reading the online reaction on Twitter.
But despite the apparent ground-breaking nature of Google TV, it has so far failed to take off in the U.S.
Apart from claims that the manufacturer was charging too much for the boxes – about £152 ($247) – there has been criticism that it is difficult to use and a number of the options Google is offering through its new service are already available on competitors’ products.
Apple TV, which costs £100 ($162) for a set-top box, allows users to rent films and TV programmes and watch shows direct from the internet on a television.
Nintendo’s Wii console lets owners browse the internet on their TV and use the BBC iPlayer, while Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s Playstation 3 also offer similar services.